No pets for rent


“We only sell them.”  But seriously, why is it so difficult to find a place to live in this city that allows you to have loveable, furry pets? Is the chance that Rover might drop a deuce on the carpet so great that landlords just don’t want to deal with them? Isn’t that what security deposits are for?

I’ve got an empty room in my place, a glorious 28×14 uber room, but all of my friends who have expressed interest are saddled with felines and sadly that’s a no-no according to my landlord. Attempts to negotiate a “pet deposit” have also gotten nowhere.

For that matter, I want a cat myself to love and cuddle! I’m missing out on a lot of mutual affection here! I suppose you could always go rogue and just get one anyway, but that seems like quite the risk.

What is the deal with landlords and pets?

52 Responses to “No pets for rent”

  1. GG says:

    There is a special place in hell for landlords that refuse to allow pets. I volunteered for many years in animal shelters, and I can’t tell you how many awesome animals who were surrendered and ultimately put to death because their owners had to move and couldn’t find a place to live with them.

    • Russel says:

      There’s a special place in hell for people that would send their pet to a shelter over an apartment. One option would be to ask a friend or family member to watch the pet until while you sort out appropriate living arrangements where your pet is welcome. Obviously this can be difficult, but it’s part of being a responsible pet owner. Your animal pal would do the same for you.

    • yawn says:

      this is the fault of the pet owners and not the landlords. although anyone who picks an apartment over the life of their pet was probably not a great pet owner to begin with.

    • The Problem with Larry says:

      Not the case with a single person or pet I have ever known. Show me some data, hysterical person.

  2. Adam says:

    I don’t have a cat. We could be friends.

  3. Simon says:

    Another reason to make home ownership your goal.

    • Russel says:


      Pets are a luxury, not an entitlement. Most pet owners are nice, responsible people. As are many landlords… However, irresponsible pet owners can enormous pain in the ass for the people they rent from. There is a far more that can go wrong than an isolated incident of “deuce on the carpet”.

      That said, three cheers for pet-friendly landlords…

      • GG says:

        “Pets are a luxury, not an entitlement.” In a world where it is ILLEGAL to discriminate against people who have kids under 18, I have a real problem with this attitude. Kids are way more destructive than pets, IMHO.

        Remember, if you’re willing to take a chance and might need to move, you can always just move into a place that specifies “no pets” and ignore the prohibition. Rental laws in SF are very renter-friendly and eviction is an expensive and time-consuming process for the landlord. If you’ve already moved in and are a good tenant, the landlord will have a strong incentive for letting it slide if they discover later that you have a pet.

        • mkay says:

          This advice is idiotic. Please, nobody take this girl seriously.

          • Russel says:

            Agreed.. Pissing off your landlord is never a good idea. While it’s true they may not go through the trouble to evict you, they have plenty of other tools at their disposal to make your life less idyllic.

          • Why, mkay? Sure, it’s inadvisable as a general principle, but if you’re facing having to turn your animal friend over to people who might have to kill it, just so you can have an apartment — it’s the lesser, by far, of two evils.

          • t.hanks says:

            It seems counter-intuitive to take the attitude of ‘I AM moving into this NO PETS apartment and I AM bringing my dog no matter what’, it’s also strange that any loving pet owner would act like the only other viable option is to send your pet off to die. Because there’s no way you could settle on a different property that allowed pets.

            Same with people that like to smoke cigarettes in their living room: why would you live in a NO SMOKING building?

            Lots of folks deliberately live in to ‘no pets’ or ‘no smoking’ buildings because they have severe allergies and respiratory problems, it really sucks for them when one of these self-entitled people moves in next door.

        • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

          GG is right on the money on this, as I noted below.

  4. fnf says:

    1) a supply and demand curve that favors owners over renters.

    2) pets = risk of some kind.

    3) plenty of qualified renters w/o pets

    4) everything being equal (e.g., credit score, rent history, etc.) rationale landlord will assume the least amount of risk possible.

  5. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

    My theory has always been to lie about it. Better to ask forgiveness than permission in this case.

    • Glenparker says:

      If your lease states no pets and your landlord finds out you have one then up goes the three day notice to get rid of the pet or face eviction.
      If the landlord agrees to let you have a purse dog as a pet then any other tenant(s) in the building can not be denied a dog no matter what size or breed.

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

        Glen: Yeah, good luck with that.

        The odds of a landlord being willing to undergo the long and arduous process to evict an otherwise model tenant (I am, of course, assuming that you pay your rent on time, etc.) because of a pet are slim-to-none, in my experience.

        • Meesha says:

          My landlord said NO PETS, well I have a dog and my roommate has a cat. He’s paid us a visit and didnt raise a fuss about it. However to my advantage a tenant in our building has two very noisy dogs who run up and down the hall all day long so, that would be my defense should the need ever arise. The tactic of just having a pet, no questions asked has worked for me in a few renting situations but isn’t fool proof. If you’re going to be sneaky a cat is the way to go, they’re quiet and easy to hide, just get them house broken to avoid issues.

        • Glenparker says:

          As a landlord if I find you have broken the lease (no matter how model of a tenant you have been) by getting a dog I will immediately start “the long and arduous process” to evict you. Really all it is is a three day notice followed by the unlawful detainer. Like I said, if you allow one tenant to have a dog you have to allow all tenants the choice to have one regardless of size. For me it’s not worth it since as other have pointed out it’s a seller’s market here with a choice of tenants and why invite the potential problems a dog(s) may bring to your building?

          • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

            Glen: Have fun with that.

            Luckily, San Francisco has very strong renter’s rights legislation. So it can take you many, many months to actually evict someone, especially if it for something as silly as violating a no-pets clause in a lease.

          • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

            Long, arduous and, of course, very EXPENSIVE process of evicting an otherwise good tenant.

            Really, it’s foolishness to think that any reasonable landlord would opt for that trouble.

        • Bart says:

          And people wonder why so many small scale landlords are just converting their properties to tic/condo.

          • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

            Yup, but, again, luckily, SF has some decent protections against that, also.

          • Bart says:

            Veggie: Not exactly protections.. more like absurd and weak duct tape which slightly slows the decay.

            Ultimately you can’t force private individuals to be your landlord.

          • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

            Bart: Still, they’re more safeguards than you’d get almost anywhere else (in this country).

          • Bart says:

            But if you turn those safeguards around to enable breaking the terms of your lease, you are contributing to the erosion of those safeguards.

            In my opinion, your actions and attitude become part of the argument against having those safeguards for those who legitimately require them.

          • “Ultimately you can’t force private individuals to be your landlord.”

            No, Bart, you can’t — but you can make them suffer almost endlessly for BEING DICKS, until they beg for mercy and agree to amend their dickish ways.

          • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

            Bart: That’s an interesting point of view, though I’m not sure that I follow your logic. If the safeguards are in place to make it harder to evict people for trivial reasons, then it would seem to me that it would logically follow that the fact that they make it hard to evict someone for as trivial a reason as having a pet despite a no-pets clause would mean that the protections are doing exactly what they are intended to? No?

          • Glenparker says:

            Breaking your lease with an illegal pet is not a trivial matter.
            It will get you a three day notice to give up the pet or to move out. You signed a lease saying you understood that you could not have a pet in the unit; if you’re not going to honor that part of the lease shouldn’t the landlord get to not honor a clause of his choosing? Does your signature mean nothing to you? Veggie, what happens if your illegal dog bites another tenant?

          • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

            Glen: Have you ever tried to evict someone? Because you keep mentioning a “3 day notice”. That means nothing. A notice to quit is nothing but a notice that you intend to to begin the long, arduous, and extremely expensive process to actually get the people out. This is a process that can take several months, and even longer, depending on the circumstances.

            If you really think it would be that easy and fast to get someone out for something as trivial as breaking a no-pets clause, then you are in for for an extremely rude awakening the first time you try.

          • Glenparker says:

            Veggie, I’ve evicted plenty of people in SF. I know the deal. Phone call to the lawyer. Yea it costs me but we have a signed lease for a reason. You keep stating breaking the no-pet clause is a trivial matter. It’s not. If you bring in a dog I will evict you. I don’t care about the cost or time; i want you gone and in the end you will be. I’ve been doing this shit a long time. I dont allow dogs. You sign your name saying you won’t have a dog. We have a deal, right? Again Veggie I ask you; does your signature on a legal document mean shit?

          • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

            Glen: Well, it isn’t up to me to tell you what you, personally, will or will not do as a landlord. If you want to put yourself through the extended, laborious, and wasteful process of an eviction for something as trivial as a violation of a no pets clause, that is certainly your prerogative. Good luck with that.

            However, I’ll repeat what I said above: Really, it is foolishness to think that any reasonable landlord would opt for that trouble.

            As I think you’ve confirmed for us, there are definitely a subset of NON-reasonable landlords out there. Happily, though, they are in a definite minority, in my experience. And I say this as someone who once had to go to small claims court to get his deposit back from a k-razy landlady who accused him of stealing the doorknobs and window locks from the apartment and replacing them with cheaper versions.

          • Glenparker says:

            Veggie, I have never done a “wasteful” eviction. If I am to the point of having to evict someone there’s certainly good reason. You keep saying that breaking the no-pets clause in the rental lease is trivial but you are wrong. You think landlords won’t try to evict you (especially if you’re paying below market rent) because it’s not worth the time and expense? Adopt a puppy and let us know how it turns out.
            I don’t know why you won’t listen but ok one more time. If I allow one tenant the quietest, smallest, sweetest dog I lose the ability to deny dogs to all other tenants. And I cannot discriminate on size or breed. It’s simply not worth the risk for me, with mainly studio apartments, to allow dogs. Can you not respect this?
            How would you feel if the drummer who lived above you was practicing at two in the morning every day. Is it ok that he ignores the “trivial” quiet hours clause in his rental contract as you ignore the “trivial” no dogs clause? What if the landlord decides to ignore the “trivial” clause where it states that he pay the water and garbage and
            instead ask you to pay? Fair? Again Veggie I ask, what good is your word if you won’t honor it in a legal contract?

          • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

            Glen: I think that we’ve established that you have some sort of problem with dogs in your building(s) that makes you willing to forfeit thousands and thousands of dollars in a long and arduous eviction process. However, you seem to be under the misapprehension that that is, at all, a common attitude. Most landlords are logical and reasonable, and want tenants that pay their rent on time and not cause problems for other tenants/neighbors or damage the premises. Anything else is lost time and lost money.

            To use your own analogy, a drummer playing in the middle of the night certainly qualifies as causing problems that impact the quality of life of the other tenants (and possibly even neighbors). Therefore that is a problem that requires addressing.

            As for your suggestion of getting a pet in a no-pets apartment and seeing how it works out, well, as I said in the first place, that is what I have always done. I have never encountered a landlord who was willing to waste the time and money to go through the eviction process for such a minor violation. The worst that has come up is the need for an additional security deposit to cover any possible damage from said pet, which is an eminently reasonable solution.

          • Glenparker says:

            Veggie, do you tell your soon-to-be landlord that you’ll be ignoring the no pets part and getting a dog before you sign the lease or do you wait until after to reveal your deception? Why not just find an apartment that allows dogs if you find that SF landlords have no problem with them.
            You keep talking about the thousands of dollars I’ll lose in evecting a tenant. Have you ever evicted anyone? You’ve been listening to too much SFTU propaganda. The only tenant that has ever asked for a dog has been living in the same unit since the mid-70s and is paying less than $600 for a one bedroom in Noe Valley. I told her the same thing I keep telling you: if she gets a dog everybody in the building now has a green light to get one too. If she feels that strongly she can always find an apartment that allows them. Funny, she’s not willing to roll the eviction dice with me.
            For the forth and final time I will ask you: does your signature mean nothing on a legal document? Do you ignore other lease clauses or just the ones that you personally don’t like?

          • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

            Of course I don’t tell them before hand. That would be tantamount to asking permission. As I said: Better to seek forgiveness than permission, in this case.

            I’m not sure why you take issue with my statement that it is expensive to evict someone. Aside from legal/filing fees and your own time, there is also the lost revenue. I mean, unless you are used to tenants continuing to pay rent whilst you are attempting to evict them? Because, I assure you, that is not generally the case. A quick googling reveals that the current median rental price for, say, a 1br apartment in San Francisco is well over $2000. (Disclaimer: I have no idea how “” comes up with these figures, and cannot vouch for their accuracy or lack thereof).

            So, let’s take a very conservative number and say that, with San Francisco’s court system, it might take you three to six months to evict a tenant who chooses to contest the eviction. (This is assuming that there are no extra issue involved, such as the tenant not having anywhere to go, or having a medical condition, or being elderly, etc.. all of which can make an eviction take far, far longer than a few months.) Hell, for the sake of this thought experiment, lets choose the low end of 3 months. That’s $6k in lost rental revenue. Poof. This is not even assuming that the tenants damage the property before they vacate (and, trust me, I have heard some real, REAL horror stories in that regard from friends who own rental property in the city). That’s a hefty chunk of change to pay for, essentially, the privilege of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

            And, to answer your question, I have absolutely been involved in eviction procedures in San Francisco. No, I have never been the one being evicted. Rather, I have been a witness for either one side or the other in different cases. I have also worked extensively with the SFTU on my own cases when I needed to get security deposits back from landlords.

            If you really think that evicting someone is so easy and fast, I would, once again, suggest that you are in for a very rude awakening the first time you try. You can call it “SFTU Propaganda” if you wish; you can even argue that the legal process is unjustly weighed in favor of tenants. However, you pretend that it is easy to evict someone for such a minor violation at your own (financial) peril.

          • Glenparker says:

            Veggie, I have evicted tenants, comes with the territory.I know the costs and the time it takes. And I don’t care about the costs; if I evict you for breaking the lease then I just want you out. Last year I payed 12 grand to get rid of a particulary nasty tenant. Didn’t enjoy rewarding the bitch for her behavior but the problem is gone and I now have a delightful new tenant that causes no problems. I’ve also evicted two guys who bolted at the first letter from my lawyer. That was a cheap one. My buildings are long payed off, I can absorb the hit every now and then. But I play by the rules the city has set up and I expect the people who sign the lease to do the same.
            You however are dishonest and sign your name to a legal document knowing you will not honor a clause you don’t like. Instead of doing the work to find an apartment that takes dogs you instead deceive. Everyone plays but the rules but you.
            What if the other tenants like that no dogs are allowed in the building? Maybe they have allergies or have had bad experiences with dogs and want to live in a building where thet don’t have to deal with them.
            You never answered my question because if you did you would reveal you have very little integrity, if any.

          • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

            Again, as I have pointed out already, I am not saying that you, personally, will not go through a ridiculous and expensive eviction procedure for such a trivial lease violation. I am not calling you a liar; I believe you when you say that you, personally, would be willing to evict someone for something that minor.

            What I *AM* saying, once again, is that, generally speaking, landlords are NOT going to go to that great trouble and huge expense to evict someone for something so trifling. I have never even heard of anyone being evicted for violating a no pets clause. Has it ever happened? I’m sure it has! You can’t be the only landlord out there who is so eager to cut off your nose to spite your face. However, my point is that the odds of it actually happening are very, very low.

            Your advice to ‘just find a place that allows pets’ seems to be missing the original topic of this post: Many landlords specify “no pets” in their lease agreement. I strongly stand by my advice: it is better to seek forgiveness later than permission now. I believe that the odds of anything worse happening than needing to pay an additional pet deposit are vanishingly slim.

  6. Glenparker says:

    Two words: Diane Whipple.

    • Responsible pet-screening would have fixed that one, asshole. You know, rather than trying to evade the responsibility of being a landlord by rejecting pets out of hand, instead of reviewing pets on a case-by-case basis.

      • Glenparker says:

        Thanks for the name calling. So its the landlord’s fault Whipple died because he didn’t screen those killer dogs? As I recalled there were many complaints against the dogs by the building residents but being that the tenants were lawyers they played the system and you know the result.
        Its not my job as a landlord to provide you with an apartment that allows pets. I myself do not allow dogs but welcome kitties with open arms. You can have two cats, maybe three if you think you can handle it. But sorry no dogs. If I let apartment 1 have a small quiet dog then I cannot disallow apartment 3 getting a German Shepard or a Great Dane. I’m not dodging responsibility I’m avoiding lawsuits.

        • The name-calling was for playing the death-dog card. If the Whipple case is your trump, then it follows that no one anywhere should be allowed to keep any dog. Fortunately, not all landlords are lazy assholes who can’t be bothered to screen pets on a case-by-case basis, but there are enough like you to push people toward making bad ethical choices.

          Oddly enough, hotel and motel operators have no difficulty at all with pet screening and accepting pet deposits.

  7. Rob S. says:

    Landlord’s market, especially in the Mission. We had a large dog in Cole Valley, very easy to find a place.

    Compared to NYC & Boston, SF is VERY friendly for pet-having renters. Keep looking!

  8. Stu says:

    Service tags can easily be attained for dogs. Cat’s, I don’t really know. Not even sure if it protects you 100% or not but I know it get’s dogs of all kinds and sizes into some very interesting places.

    • GG says:

      OK, I’ve posted way too many comments on this post, but I have to speak up here because this really bugs me. My cousin is blind and has a service dog, and gets hassled all the time by people who don’t understand service animal laws (i.e. telling her she can’t go x place, take her dog in their cab, etc.). IMHO, when you fraudulently get service tags for your clearly non-service (and possibly ill-behaved) dog, you’re creating a bad public impression of service dogs and making it harder for people whose lives depend on them. So yeah, it’s easy, but that doesn’t mean you should do it. Just my two cents.

  9. Henna Skye says:

    I’m a volunteer with Bernal Heights Transgendered Vegan Pitbull Rescue. We’re organizing a demonstration to raise awareness of the rights and dignity of all animal-tenants in San Francisco being systematically stripped away by the ultra right wing conservative Glen Parker and his money-hungry, property-owning cronies.

    Who will stand with us? We need each and everyone of you reading this to come out and show your support. We have a licensed life coach sitting on our board, and she’ll be on site to hand out service animal recommendation letters free of charge for any members that do not yet have theirs. Full details will be available at our website upon our return from The Playa.

  10. Nay says:

    My cat will never draw on the walls with marker, spill milk into the rug, or throw something into a glass window. He won’t leave the water running or flush something that jams up the toilet and not say anything when it overflows. He doesn’t scream or jump at all hours to drive you crazy with complaints from the neighbors.

    My landlord actually makes out like a bandit. Her rates are (now) above market since people are willing to pay more for an increasingly rare nice place, (considering current rental competition) that allows dogs. 5 of 8 of her last tenants have had dogs. Not one has had a young child.